Weekly Wrap Up + What We Read 1/24/16

Hello again! It is time for Betwixt the Book’s weekly wrap up. Once again, we’re talking about all our context this week, from The Pied Piper Calls to My Life is a Notebook to the YouTube channel. Also per usual, there is some sneak peeks about what’s coming up this next week AND a bonus mini-haul from Gretchen!

Monday:

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

Thursday:

Friday:

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Worth it Wednesdays: “Pushing the Limits” by Katie McGarry

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

Pushing the LimitsTitle: Pushing the Limits

Author: Katie McGarry

Goodreads DescriptionSo wrong for each other …and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.

But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

Why it’s worth it: I got Pushing the Limits as an ARC back in 2012, and I still can’t tell you why I requested it in the first place. I don’t like contemporary YA romances, as a rule. They all seem the same to me, and I get bored easily.

I’M SO GLAD THAT I DID THOUGH, because this book is such a stand out.

I think the best thing about Pushing the Limits is that it isn’t just a love story. I mean, it certainly is a romance–and a really, really good one–but it also takes the time to give Noah and Echo lives outside of their romance–really, really 3D lives. They’re both struggling through real, serious struggles in their own, individual lives, each of which could have been a singular novel on their own. But then their stories twine together, and they fall in love and give each other strength while doing so.

One thing that always irks me in YA contemporary romance is that there is usually one person in the romance (typically the girl, but not always) who is having the struggle, and then the other one comes in at exactly the right time to be their hero. Or, worse, they both have very shallow struggles going on that take a backseat to some kind of star-crossed love. In my ARC review of Pushing the Limits, I wrote that it was actually NOAH’S finale that made me tear up, as opposed to Echo’s, which NEVER happens to me. I usually identify with the girl more, and usually the guys are really trite besides. Noah and Echo are both important, integral and real parts of the story–something I have rarely found outside of Katie’s books.

I did also review the second book in this series, Dare You To, on my blog, but I read the whole series and loved every one. Sure, I didn’t really have the intense, visceral reaction that I did to Pushing the Limits, but that doesn’t make the whole series any less worth it.

Read it if you’re looking for: contemporary romance that isn’t cliche, books dealing with serious topics, love that isn’t insta-love, realistic romance, a tear jerker, swoon worthy leads

Weekly Wrap Up + Stacking the Shelves for 9-28-13

wrapup

Welcome to another bi-weekly wrap up! I really need to get better at this. Maybe I can use it as an excuse for my teachers to not give me so much homework. Sigh, in my dreams. Well, here we go!

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ARC Review: “Dare You To” by Katie McGarry

Dare to uDare You To (Pushing the Limits #2) by Katie McGarry

Goodreads | Amazon

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom’s freedom and her own happiness. That’s how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn’t want her and going to a school that doesn’t understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her, but does….

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all….

4 stars

Thanks to HarlequinTeen and NetGalley for this eARC! This title is now available.

In the beginning I accepted one thing. I knew that I could in no way love this book as much as I loved Pushing the Limits. But I had faith in Katie McGarry to come through and write something that would rip at my heartstrings. Thank God I had so much faith, or I might not have made it past the first part of the book.

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Top Ten New To Me Authors I Read in 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

Okay, this list is HARDLY the only awesome new to me authors I read in 2012. They’re just as far as I could go back in the year before I hit 10, and honestly I didn’t get very far.

1. Gennifer Albin (Crewel)

Yeah, I had my issues with Crewel, but I can’t deny the sheer awesomeness of this idea and the book and the cover and– and– just *drool*.

2. Jay Kristoff (Stormdancer)

GUYS. HE WRITES JAPANESE STEAMPUNK. THERE IS A THUNDER-TIGER. Enough has been said. (But I said more in my review!)

3. Kat Zhang (What’s Left of Me)

I have so much respect for Kat. Not only did she manage to successfully narrate this novel from a body that has 2 personalities inside, but she managed to write OTHER characters that have TWO PERSONALITIES. Oh, and did I mention the book is awesomesauce? Because it is. I said so HERE.

4. S. J. Kincaid (Insignia)

Not only did this book have me laughing out loud, but I gave it to my brother and it made HIM laugh out loud and it gave us something to talk about. Both him laughing and us talking are like miracles. Read more HERE.

5. Anna Banks (Of Poseidon)

Up until this point, I was NOT a fan of the new mermaid trend. But Banks won me over, and I actually really ended up enjoying this one! You can read why HERE.

6. Katie McGarry (Pushing the Limits)

It takes a seriously good book to a) almost make me cry and b) actually like anything in the contemporary YA genre. McGarry did BOTH. I explain more HERE.

7. Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass)

I think this book is like my most recommended book all year. Like seriously. Because you know why? I CAN’T HANDLE HOW AWESOME THIS BOOK IS OHMYGOD I JUST– Ahem. Read my review for more (CAPS).

8. Nina Berry (Otherkin)

Okay, so for one, Berry wrote a school setting that I didn’t hate, and for that I give her huge props. Also, she’s awesome to talk to on Twitter, and that makes her doubly awesome. You can read more about the book HERE.

9. Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity)

Okay, we’ve discussed how hard it is to make me cry. WEIN ALMOST SUCCEEDED. Also, the way the book was written I should have HATED it. But I didn’t. I loved it. And I sang it’s praises so loudly and haven’t stopped since.

10. Robin LaFevers (Grave Mercy)

Basically anyone who writes historical fiction is instantly my bestie. But this was historical fantasy, which was even better, and then there was the ASSASSIN NUNS. It doesn’t get much better than this. Check out my review for more!

Top Ten Bookish People I Want to Meet

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

Once upon a time, I would have thought this subject would be really easy. But then I met Tamora Pierce, Cathrynne Valente, Kij Johnson and John Joseph Adams. And then I met Holly Black, Sarah Rees Brennan and Cassandra Clare. Oh no, wait. This is still a really easy list because there are SO MANY AMAZING AUTHORS OUT THERE.

1. Rachel Hawkins

Do you guys follow her on Twitter at @LadyHawkins? Because if you don’t and you have a Twitter, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. There are few Twitter accounts that I actually search for updates on, and this is one of them.

2. Jodi Meadows

I’ve had far more Twitter conversations with this woman then I’d ever dreamed possible (YAY TWITTER), and now I would LOVE to meet her in person. She is clearly super awesome.

3. Courtney Allison Moulton

Another author I’ve been able to talk to on Twitter and have decided is supremely awesome. Also, writes kickass heriones. These two things combined makes for a very happy Gretchen (who talks about herself in the third person…?).

4. Richelle Mead

Her Vampire Academy books and Bloodlines books make me SWOON AND DIE. I love those books with a fiery, fiery passion and I would ADORE a chance to squeal about Adrian and Dimitri with her for just five seconds.

5. Sarah J. Maas

Though I’ve never spoken to her on Twitter, I stalk her mercilessly. (Really, Twitter is just a stalking tool.) She seems really awesome, and also writes AWESOME AMAZING BOOKS. Clearly she’s a winner.

6. Nina Berry

Not only did she write an AMAZING book called Otherkin, but we’ve also chatted on Twitter several times. More than that, she’s been a huge friend in retweeting several of my messages about my blog, which I’ve never been able to thank her properly for. I’d love to be able to do that in person.

7. Julie Kagawa

It’s Julie Kagawa. I fail to see why I must explain this to you.

8. Stephanie Perkins

Have you ever looked at her author picture? Followed her Twitter? Then you’ll understand how Stephanie seems like the kind of person I refuse to live without seeing at least once.

9. Katie McGarry

I want just five seconds to blubber about how much Pushing the Limits pushed my emotions. And I mean literally blubber, because OHMYGOD THAT BOOK.

10. Kat Zhang

What’s Left of Me was a SUPER FANTASTIC BOOK, and I would die for a chance to pick Kat’s brain about what it was like to write multiple people in the same bodies because OHMYGOD was that amazingly done.

ARC Review: “Pushing the Limits” by Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Goodreads | Amazon

So wrong for each other…and yet so right.
No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible. Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

4.5 stars

This review is of an ARC received from NetGalley and HarlequinTeen. You can get a copy for yourself July 24, 2012.

I should probably mention that I don’t usually read contemps. I mean, with how I feel about romance and insta-love and yadda yadda, I’d at least like to have some fantastical elements to keep the action going so *I* can keep going. However, Pushing the Limits?

This I finished in one night. And then promptly added to my Goodreads favorites shelf. And it was my brother’s 16 birthday to boot.

The thing about this book is that it’s not JUST about romance. The issues that Echo is dealing with (those scares came from something her mother was involved in, she’s worried she’s bipolar AND her father is expecting a baby with the twenty-something woman he replaced her mother with. Who was once Echo’s babysitter, no less.) and the issues that Noah are dealing with (he’s in the foster system, separated from his two younger brothers, trying to reunite his family) are REAL. They are important. They are powerful. And, hey, if they happen to fall in love on the way, that’s cool too.

Originally, I wasn’t very happy with Echo. She was letting her father and everyone else really control her life and molding her into something she really didn’t want to be. The important thing, though, is that this is just another part of the story. McGarry recognizes the problem and then makes sure Echo DEALS with it instead of being a simpering, inactive female lead the whole time.

Noah, too, started out as your typical, cliché, slacker-pot smoker. Then you add the layer of his parents death and his brothers and suddenly he, too, becomes a three-dimensional character. I’ve enjoyed contemps with male leads who were just the typical, but Noah brought this book to a whole other level.

Sure, to like this book, you’ve got to like drama. You have to be cool with a lot of crying, teenage freaking out and–yes–some teenage school drama. But what I loved is that, for once, even the school drama really got me. After all, I can only imagine how much courage it took for Echo to walk into the cafeteria of her school with her scars bared.

In points, it does get a bit preachy, but I let it slide. I was actually shocked at how it was NOAH’s ending scene with his brothers that made me tear up a little bit. Usually I empathize with the girl because the guy doesn’t really have much going for him. I loved the switch.

Pushing the Limits was almost like a YA Nicholas Sparks book. Only better, because it had a happy ending. It was a book with a message that KNEW it had a message, but I also could still feel the power coming off the pages. I am way too much excited for the companion novel McGarry is writing, and this one isn’t even out yet.

The bottom line: If you are a contemporary YA lover, you NEED to read this. Even if you aren’t, like me, I absolutely recommend that you give this a try.